FOR ENGLAND AND WALES
The Animal Welfare Officers’ Handbook is intended to provide a broad base of information
for both the new and experienced officer. While it is not intended to be exhaustive, it is
aimed at giving operational guidance and to be a reference book for issues which may
not be every day occurrences. The reference section at the back of the book is intended
to give officers an indication about where more in depth knowledge may be found,
primarily on websites.
The Pet Advisory Committee (PAC) recognises that the role of the animal welfare officer
has changed since the early days of the dog warden service in the early 1990s. The role
now often includes broader responsibilities for public education about companion animals
in society as well as inspection of licensed establishments. Not all local authorities use
their Animal welfare officers in the same way but the intention is to cover the potential
range of duties which can arise. Individual officers should refer to their own job
descriptions and individual authorities’ procedure manuals for guidance on the exact
nature and extent of the role.
Of course legislation also changes. The loose-leaf and extra blank pages construction of
this Handbook allows it to be regularly updated as new legislation is introduced to keep
pace with change. Society attitudes and public opinion also change and the handbook
will continue to reflect best practice.
The Handbook is primarily aimed at animal welfare officers who deal with companion
animals rather than animal health/welfare officers authorised under the Animal Health Act
who deal with farmed animals. However it is recognised that some job roles may cover
both. PAC also hopes that more senior local authority officers will use the information as a
template for operational guidance and that elected members may view it as an example
of best practice towards which their authority should aim.
The Handbook is divided into separate chapters, many of which refer to legislation and
other publications and websites. Rather than continually repeat references and sources of
more in depth information, these are gathered together at the back of the Handbook.
Where legislation is quoted it is preceded by the Section number and is in italics, a different
font and quotes thus: S1(4):
“blah blah blah”.
There may be some variation in legislation between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern
Ireland and officers are advised to consult their local authority legal services to ensure the
legislation quoted is effective in their area.
Throughout the Handbook the term ‘he’ should be taken to relate to officers of either sex.
What is the PAC?
PAC is unique in that it is made up of major animal welfare charities, veterinary
organisations, environmental health, local authority and trade associations. Its remit is to
examine the role of companion animals in society and to make recommendations to
central and local government as to how pets can best fit into the environment, in the
interests of the animal, its owner and the wider community.
British Small Animal Veterinary Association
British Veterinary Association
Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
Feline Advisory Bureau
The Kennel Club
National Office of Animal Health
Pet Care Trust
Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
With thanks to all those who have contributed to the production of this handbook:
Claire Bessant, Phil Buckley, Mark Callis, Brian Faulkner, Sarah Fry, Chris Laurence and
Animal Welfare Officers’ Handbook
(England and Wales)
Published by the Pet Advisory Committee
1 Powers and enforcement
2 Licensing animal establishments
3 Evidence procedures
4 Relationships with other organisations
5 Campaigns and education
6 Animal handling and behaviour
7 Animal health and disease control
9 Health and safety
10 Useful contacts
POWERS AND ENFORCEMENT
To undertake the various duties performed as officers of the local authority animal welfare
officers must have authorisation which is approved by their council or the officer’s properly
designated senior officer. This is particularly important where court work is involved.
For example, to issue fixed penalty notices for an alleged offence of dog fouling will require
the issuing officer to be authorised by the head of service, chief environmental health
officer or other person designated to carry out this function. To deal with stray dogs, the
council has a duty to authorise an officer. Normally officers are issued with a warrant card
which gives details of their authorisation. Commonly, this card lists the relevant Acts and
subsections where the powers are given and what they relate to. As this information may
vary and officers may have been given specific or different duties, their authorisation will
differ from one council to another.
However, some authorisations will be general and applicable to the majority of officers; for
example, those relating to council-owned properties. In these cases the powers of entry
within reason and at a reasonable time in order for the officer to carry out his investigation
may be included. The word "reasonable" will appear regularly throughout legislation and
Licensing of establishments such as boarding kennels and catteries allows the authorised
licensing inspector access at all reasonable times. To define reasonable is a matter of
interpretation. Should the officer arrive at a kennels to find the only member of staff is just
leaving to collect a boarder, it would not be reasonable to insist on access to inspect
unless there is a requirement for urgent access in relation to animal welfare. It may be
preferable if the inspection can be carried out at a later date and certainly on the return of
the member of staff. There may also be occasions when a night time visit is reasonable,
for instance in order to check that adequate temperature control is in place for the animals.
However, it could be an offence to obstruct an officer and not allow access to a licensed
premises. The officer should make a judgement depending on the urgency of the visit.
Maintaining good relations with the kennel proprietor is important and it may therefore be
appropriate to return at a later time. Powers of entry are there to be used appropriately,
Entry to unlicensed establishments or residential properties is more complex. Usually a
warrant obtained through local magistrates (a Justice of the Peace) is necessary and that
requires provision of relevant evidence. Such a process can be time consuming and
difficult, especially at night.
Councils have always sought powers of entry to be made more streamlined in order that
officers can carry out their investigations with a certain amount of ease and with the
power to gain access to areas previously excluded to them. For example, in checking a
business based in or around a residential premises officers require authorisation to check
a dwelling should that area be used in connection with the business. A farm may keep
some of its records in the dwelling house. The need for entry is obvious but in deciding
whether to extend powers, it is necessary to take into consideration human rights. It will
be necessary to consult the legal department and refer to the Regulation of Investigatory
Powers Act (RIPA) and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE).
Licensed premises may include a private dwelling and therefore automatically allow
access (ie, pet shops).
Currently, except relating to animal health, the authorised officer only remains authorised
within the boundary of the council he works for, although changes in legislation may allow
for cross boundary work, especially with greater local authority cooperation.
Legislation and byelaws
There is general legislation covering England and Wales relating to animal welfare, animal
control and nuisances, where either district or county councils (including their replacements)
are empowered to carry out the function and enforcement of the law. Local authorities
therefore have authorised officers to carry out the council’s policies and duties connected
In addition, byelaws (which are local laws) are present for councils to adopt where there is
a local need. In adopting a byelaw, which requires application to the government, the
council will make provision for the appropriate officer to be authorised to carry out
Parish and town councils have powers under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment
Act 2005 to adopt Dog Control Orders which may, for example, ban dogs from a
designated site such as a park. In this case the animal welfare officer will need to check
who has been authorised to carry out enforcement. Some national pieces of legislation,
such as the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996, may override local byelaws so clarification
may be required from the legal department. Further detail is given on pp??.
The new Act or byelaws may apply to council owned parks. To safeguard the park for all
to enjoy, rules are usually posted on a board near the entrance. The animal welfare officer’s
enforcement powers may include the removal of any dog present (with or without owner)
in the park, which is causing a nuisance.
Some park officials may also have “powers of arrest”.
Enforcement of legislation
The animal welfare officer has an important role within the community, as he is often the
public face of the local authority where animals are concerned. It is essential that officers
build good relationships with the public as a major element of their role is promoting
responsible pet ownership. By being aware of the rights and responsibilities associated
with pet ownership the officer can help reduce some of the more common problems that
blight neighbourhoods such as straying, fouling and noise.
Where there is reference to the standard level of fines, the levels relate to the amounts set
out in the Criminal Justice Act 1982 section 37(2) and updated by the Prescribed Fees
Regulations. The present level of fines is:
The following sections are not exhaustive and are only intended as a guide to the legislation
most likely to affect animal welfare officers during the course of their duties, except when
they are licensing establishments which is covered in Chapter 2.
Dogs Act 1906
Although from the 1st April 1992 the responsibility for dealing with stray dogs became
that of the local authority, the police continued to have a specific duty to accept and
detain any stray dog taken to a police station by a member of the public. Police
responsibilities are similar to those prescribed in the Environmental Protection Act 1990
(see later). However the responsibility under this Act is to be superseded by the Clean
Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (see later) which will remove all responsibility from
the police once implemented.
Animals Act 1971
The Act amends the civil law in relation to the liability of keepers of animals for damage
done by their animals. If the damage is done by an animal belonging to a dangerous
species, the keeper is liable. The definition of dangerous excludes all species commonly
domesticated in the UK, such as dogs.
Where the damage is caused by a domesticated species the keeper is normally liable
under S2(2) if
“ (a) the damage is of a kind which the animal, unless restrained, was likely to cause or which,
if caused by the animal, was likely to be severe; and
(b) the likelihood of the damage or of its being severe was due to characteristics of the animal
which are not normally found in animals of the same species or are not normally so found
except at particular times or in particular circumstances: and
(c) those characteristics were known to that keeper or were at any time known to a person
who at that time had charge of the animal as that keeper’s servant or, where that keeper is
the head of a household, were known to another keeper of the animal who is a member of
that household and under sixteen.”
The keeper of a dog is required to take such care as is reasonable to see that damage is
not caused by the dog straying onto a highway. The Act provides a defence in any civil
proceedings for killing or causing injury to a dog worrying livestock. There is no exemption
from the Animal Welfare Act 2006 if unnecessary suffering is caused.
Environmental Protection Act 1990
Section 79(1) bans keeping an animal in such a place or manner as to be prejudicial to
health or a nuisance, or emitting noise from a premises so as to be similarly prejudicial or
a nuisance. For one example see Coventry City Council v Cartwright  1 WLR 845.
Private individuals can also seek their own remedy for such statutory nuisances under
Section 82, and the courts can impose a fine on the offender. However, the common law
is relied on to settle private disputes.
Seizure of stray dogs
Section 149(1) requires each local authority to appoint an officer to ensure that the
responsibilities for dealing with stray dogs are properly discharged. Under Section 149(2)
the officer may in turn delegate the duty to implement the legislation to other persons
whether employed by the authority or not.
The Act does not provide a statutory definition of what a stray dog is, but it is suggested
that a dog may reasonably be treated as a stray if it is roaming freely and not under the
control of any person, irrespective of whether it has a home. Where the officer has reason
to believe that any dog found in a public place is a stray, he can, if practicable, seize and
detain it S149(3). Should the dog be found on land or in premises which are not public
places then the officer must have the consent of the landowner before attempting to seize
The officer must serve notice on the person whose name and address is given on the
collar or identity tag or on the owner, if known, stating that the dog has been seized,
where it is being kept, and that it will be disposed of if it is not claimed within seven clear
days after the service of the notice and any charges paid S149(4). If at the end of the
required seven day period a stray dog has not been collected by its owner, the officer
may dispose of the dog by S149(6):
“ (a) selling it, or giving it to a person who will in the Officer’s opinion care properly for the dog;
(b) selling it, or giving it to an establishment for the reception of stray dogs; or
(c) by destroying it in a manner to cause as little pain as possible;
but no dog seized under this section shall be sold or given for the purposes of vivisection.
(7) Where a dog is disposed of under subsection (6)(a) or (b) above to a person acting in good
faith, the ownership of the dog shall be vested in the recipient.”
Under S149(8) officers must keep a register containing the prescribed particulars relating
to dogs seized, which must be made available, at all reasonable times, for inspection by
the public free of charge. Officers must also ensure that all detained dogs are properly fed
and maintained S149(9). The treatment of any injury or disease is not specifically mentioned
in the legislation but it would be reasonable to suppose that appropriate treatment by a
veterinary surgeon is included in the maintenance of the dog.
The officer must satisfy himself that any person given or sold a stray dog will care for it
properly. Dogs must not be sold or given away for the purpose of vivisection.
Delivery of stray dogs to police or local authority
Under S150 any person, referred to in S150(1) as the finder, who takes possession of a
stray dog must either:
“ (a) return the dog to its owner; or
(b) take the dog -
(i) to the officer of the local authority for the area in which the dog was found; or
(ii) to the police station which is nearest to the place where the dog was found;
and shall inform the officer of the local authority or the police officer in charge of the
police station, as the case may be, where the dog was found.”
Under the Environmental Protection (Stray Dogs) Regulations 1992 made under S150(2)
to S150(6), the finder of a dog can request to keep it and must provide their name and
address so that their ability to properly care for it may be verified. The finder must be
warned that he must keep the dog for one month and is guilty of an offence if he does
not. Should the true owner turn up, and can prove ownership, then the finder must
relinquish care of the dog. Should the finder fail to take any of the above action he may be
subject to a fine. The full procedure is contained in the regulations.
The Control of Dogs Order 1992
Every dog, while on a highway or place of public resort, must wear a collar with the name
and address of its owner either inscribed on it or on a plate or badge attached to it.
There are some exemptions in S2(2):
“ (a) any pack of hounds,
(b) any dog while being used for sporting purposes,
(c) any dog while being used for the capture or destruction of vermin,
(d) any dog while being used for the driving or tending of cattle or sheep,
(e) any dog while being used on official duties by a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces or,
Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise or the police force for any area,
(f) any dog while being used in emergency rescue work, or
(g) any dog registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.”
The Environmental Protection Act 1990, S151, places the duty to enforce this requirement
on local authorities and not the police. The penalty for non compliance is a fine not
exceeding level 5 on the standard scale. The practicalities for officers exercising this duty
are that the widespread practice of owners not providing a collar and identity tag for their
dog can lead to officers being unable to notify the owners where the dog is detained, or
return these strays prior to detention. Enforcing legislation in such a manner would save
costs to the local authority.
Where an offence is committed the dog may be seized or treated as a stray under S3
(1906 Act) or S149 of the Environmental Protection Act.
If a case is taken to court, officers should keep careful notes of incidents and be prepared
to attend proceedings and give evidence as described in Chapter 3.
Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996
Local Authorities could adopt this piece of legislation to make it an offence for owners to
allow their dogs to foul on designated land. The animal welfare officer must be aware
whether this Act has been adopted by the local authority and whether it has been replaced
by a Control Order imposed under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.
Under S1 the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act applies:
“ (1) - (1) Subject to subsections (2) to (4) below, this Act applies to any land which is open to
the air and to which the public are entitled or permitted to have access (with or without
(2) This Act does not apply to land comprised in or running alongside a highway which
comprises a carriageway unless the driving of motor vehicles on the carriageway is subject,
otherwise than temporarily, to a speed limit of 40 miles per hour or less.
(3) This Act does not apply to land of any of the following descriptions, namely
(a) land used for agriculture or for woodlands;
(b) land which is predominantly marshland, moor or heath; and
(c) common land to which the public are entitled or permitted to have access otherwise
than by virtue of section 193(1) of the Law of Property Act 1925 (right of access to
urban common land).”
If a dog defecates at any time on designated land and a person who is in charge of the
dog at that time fails to remove the faeces from the land forthwith, he is guilty of an
offence, unless he has a reasonable excuse for failing to do so or the person controlling
the land has consented to it.
A person who is guilty of an offence may be fined an amount not exceeding level 3 on the
standard scale, although the authority, through the remit of the animal welfare officer, has
the legal discretion to issue a fixed penalty notice rather than take legal proceedings.
S3(4) verifies the responsibility of the person in charge of the dog
“ (4) For the purposes of this section
(a) a person who habitually has a dog in his possession shall be taken to be in charge of the
dog at any time unless at that time some other person is in charge of the dog;
(b) placing the faeces in a receptacle on the land which is provided for the purpose, or for the
disposal of waste, shall be a sufficient removal from the land; and
(c) being unaware of the defecation (whether by reason of not being in the vicinity or
otherwise), or not having a device for or other suitable means of removing the faeces, shall
not be a reasonable excuse for failing to remove the faeces.”
Dangerous dog legislation
Animal welfare officers may be called upon to deal with dogs considered dangerous by
the general public. The three main pieces of legislation that relate to dangerous dogs are
the Dogs Act 1871, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (as amended 1997) and the Town
Police Clauses Act 1847.
Town Police Clauses Act 1847
It is an offence to allow any un-muzzled ferocious dog to be kept at large or to set or
urge any dog (or other animal) to attack, worry or put in fear any person or animal in any
street. A person guilty of an offence is liable to a level 3 fine.
Dogs Act 1871
Section 2 of this Act provides for situations where a dog is dangerous and not kept under
proper control. Proceedings are a civil matter which means that a member of the public
can bring about proceedings, and the burden of proof is the lesser one of ‘balance of
Although the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 Act is used more frequently, if proceedings are
successful under the 1871 legislation the court can impose a control order, requiring that
the dog be kept under proper control at all times with certain conditions attached, or it
can order the dog’s destruction. For owners, the court can disqualify them from keeping a
dog, which is very rare and can order them to pay police costs. Being a civil matter an
owner cannot be fined or made to pay compensation.
Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (as amended 1997)
This Act tackles the problem of dangerous dogs in four ways:
● by prohibiting possession of named breed types except under strictly controlled
● by authorising the imposition of restrictions on other dogs believed to be a serious
danger to the public;
● by imposing sanctions on the owners of dogs and those in charge of them which are
dangerously out of control in a public place;
● by imposing sanctions on the owners of dogs and those in charge of them who allow
them to injure persons on private property.
Four breed types of dog are named by, or under powers in, the 1991 Act. These are: the
Pit Bull Terrier, the Japanese Tosa, the Fila Braziliero and the Dogo Argentino.
The Act makes it an offence to allow these types of dog to be in a public place without
being muzzled, and kept on a lead. It is also an offence to breed or breed from, sell,
exchange or to offer, advertise or expose them for sale or exchange; to make, or offer to
make a gift of them, or advertise or expose them as a gift.
Details of the dog must be reported to the police, the dog must be neutered, third party
insurance cover be provided and the dog must be registered on the Register of Exempted
Dogs which is held by the police.
The Act provides for the Secretary of State to add further breeds to the banned list should
he perceive them to present a serious danger to the public.
Section 3 creates an offence committed by the owner of a dog, and by any person in
charge of it at the time, if it is dangerously out of control in a public place. This Section is
applicable to all dogs and not just the four breeds banned in Section 1. Should the dog
actually injure a person the offence will be treated as being aggravated, which in turn will
increase the severity of any penalty.
Should a court find against an owner it is likely that they will be fined, ordered to pay
compensation to the victim, and pay towards prosecution costs. It is also possible,
although very rare, that owners can be sent to prison and/or disqualified from keeping a
dog. After conviction there is a presumption that the dog should be destroyed unless it
can be proven that there would not be a danger to public safety in the future.
An offence is committed by the owner of a dog if it is allowed to enter a place that is not a
public place and, while it is there, it injures any person or there are grounds for reasonable
assumption that it will do so. If someone other than the owner is in charge of it at the time
then they will be liable and not the owner. Penalties are the same as set out above.
Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005
This very broad ranging Act includes Part 6 which relates specifically to dogs. Chapter 1,
Sections 55 to 67, relates to Dog Control Orders and Chapter 2, Section 68, clarifies the
responsibilities for dealing with stray dogs.
Dog Control Orders, which may be effective from April 2006, replace and standardise
existing Byelaws and the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act. Existing legislation remains in place
until any change is required and the new Control Orders replace it (S64). The matters
which may be defined in a Control Order are laid out in S55(3):
“ For the purposes of this Chapter an offence relates to the control of dogs if it relates to one of
the following matters
(a) fouling of land by dogs and the removal of dog faeces;
(b) the keeping of dogs on leads
(c) the exclusion of dogs from land
(d) the number of dogs which a person may take on to any land.”
In addition the ability to instigate and enforce Control Orders is extended to include both
primary and secondary authorities which are defined in S58 as:
“ (1) Each of the following is a “primary authority” for the purposes of this Chapter
(a) a district council in England;
(b) a county council in England for an area for which there is no district council;
(c) a London borough council;
(d) the Common Council of the City of London;
(e) the Council of the Isles of Scilly;
(t) a county or county borough council in Wales.
(2) Each of the following is a “secondary authority” for the purposes of this Chapter -
a) a parish council in England;
b) a community council in Wales.”
Officers must be aware of which orders effective in their area they are authorised to
enforce although an order laid down by a primary authority always overrides that by a
secondary authority. Section 59 provides for fixed penalty notices and S61 empowers an
authorised officer to require a person to whom he proposes to give a fixed penalty to give
him his name and address.
Chapter 2, Section 68 removes any responsibility for dealing with stray dogs from the
police force which was enshrined in the Dogs Act 1906 S3, and the Environmental Protection
Act 1990 S150. Section 108 stipulates that Chapter 2 will not come into force until funding
arrangements have been made to ensure local authorities are adequately funded to provide
a 24 hour dog warden service. No date has yet been announced.
Specific animal welfare legislation
The Animal Welfare Act 2006
The Animal Welfare Act is effective in England and Wales and is divided into two elements:
the first deals with deliberate cruelty; the second deals with all other welfare and licensing
issues. The Act is enabling legislation which enables the government to introduce secondary
legislation on a variety of welfare issues. This secondary legislation will eventually
modernise and replace much of the existing legislation on boarding, sale and breeding of
The first element, S4 to S8, deals with deliberate cruelty from unnecessary suffering,
mutilations, poisoning and fighting. Unnecessary suffering is more closely defined in S4(1)
“ (1) A person commits an offence if -
(a) an act of his, or failure to act, causes an animal to suffer,
(b) he knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the act, or failure to act, would have
that effect or be likely to do so,
(c) the animal is a protected animal, and
(d) the suffering is unnecessary.”
The second element introduces a ‘duty of care’ on every person who owns or cares for an
animal. S9(2) defines the duty of care as:
“ (2) For the purposes of this Act, an animal’s needs shall be taken to include
(a) its need for a suitable environment,
(b) its need for a suitable diet,
(c) its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns,
(d) any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals, and
(e) its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.”
The sale of animals is also dealt with in the Act with a ban on the sale to any person who
appears to be under 16 years of age. It is also illegal to give such a person an animal as a
prize except in a family context.
Until the secondary legislation is introduced all existing legislation on breeding of dogs,
boarding establishments, riding establishments and pet shops remains in place. Government
have signalled their intention to regulate animal sanctuaries, livery yards and greyhound
racing in the long term. All secondary legislation will be dealt with separately in England
and Wales and officers must be aware of any differences between the two jurisdictions.
In addition to the introduction of secondary legislation the government is enabled to write
Codes of Practice to give guidance on the manner in which specific animals should be
kept. Failure to comply with the Codes is not, of itself, evidence of an offence but the
failure may be used as evidence.
Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006
The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act has two Parts; Part 1 deals with measures
to manage the introduction of notifiable disease and contains little of relevance to officers;
Part 2 deals with animal welfare and is similar to the Animal Welfare Act in England and
Although the offence of unnecessary suffering is defined slightly differently compared to
the English Act, there is no significant difference between them. The definition of ‘duty of
care’ is identical. The ban on sale of animals to those under 16 years old is also the same
but it is illegal to give an animal as a prize to any person except in a family context.
Secondary legislation will be introduced by the Scottish parliament in parallel to that
being introduced in England and Wales. It is not clear whether there will be differences
Other stray animals
No other stray animal has the equivalent legal status of the dog. If an officer picks up any
other animal, its details should be recorded in an identical fashion to dogs, and the animal
conveyed to a relevant and professional agency.
The liability of owners of animals other than dogs is detailed in the Animals Act 1971. The
local authority may impound any animal which strays onto their land. Section 155 of the
Highways Act authorises the police to deal with any horses, cattle, sheep, goats or swine
found straying on or beside the highway. Authorities will remove dead animals from the
highway although authorities differ as to which animals they will remove.
If an animal welfare officer considers that he may have picked up an animal for which an
owner would need a special licence, such as a Dangerous Wild Animal, or a breed type
banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act, or an animal of an endangered species, then
advice should be sought from an expert in the relevant field.
Nuisance is divided into nuisances at Common Law and Statutory Nuisances. Officers
should only be involved in the latter although members of the public may seek assistance
with the former. A Statutory Nuisance is defined as
“An act not warranted by law, or an act or omission to discharge a legal duty which act or
omission obstructs or causes inconvenience or damage to the public in the exercise of
rights common to all Her Majesty’s subjects.”
Examples of behaviour that may give rise to a Statutory Nuisance include excessive
barking, the emission of offensive smells, a large number of dogs running loose or the
keeping of an excessive number of cats. The effect this has must be substantial, and it is
always a question of degree whether a particular activity in given circumstances
constitutes a nuisance; some inconveniences have to be tolerated. A statutory notice may
be served on a person causing the problem ordering them to abate the nuisance. Failure
to do so allows action to be taken through the magistrates’ court.
A common nuisance complaint that officers may have to handle is that of cats in gardens.
The best advice that can be offered to complainants is that cats do not have the same
legal status as dogs so there is no legislation preventing them entering other people’s
gardens. However, there ways to try and deter cats, and other small mammals, from
entering gardens. For more information please contact the Feline Advisory Bureau (see
Local authorities can implement an order under the Road Traffic Acts (Control of Dogs
Order) that in effect makes it an offence for a person to cause or permit a dog to be on a
designated road without it being on a lead. Any local authority proposing such a measure
must advertise it in the local press so that the public may have an opportunity to comment,
object and possibly force a public inquiry. This ability is also being superseded by the
Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 and officers should consult their legal
department to clarify which legislation is effective in their area.
A byelaw may be defined as a law which operates in a local authority area. Examples
include those made under the Public Health Act 1875, the Open Spaces Act 1906 and the
Local Government Act 1972 where powers are provided for byelaws to be made. Officers
should consult their legal department for details of byelaws which apply in the authority
area. Once a byelaw has been implemented signs giving information about its effect must
be erected on the roads concerned.
From time to time central government issues advisory circulars such as Circular 6/92
which deals with stray dogs. The number after the / refers to the year of issue.